Phosphorescent Concrete Could Light the Way Home Imagine a future when, as dusk turns to night during a long drive, the darkening highway begins to glow in soft hues of blue and green to illuminate the path ahead. Such a possibility could become reality after the creation of light-emitting cement. The novel material could provide lighted pathways for cars, trucks, bikes, and pedestrians without using electricity. Continue reading →
Alta House: view of Kitchen. Note windows and skylights for ample daylighting, variety of ceiling heights, and cozy inglenook space with windows on two sides.
Many homeowners are now gearing up to create that long-postponed new or remodeled home. Many of those homeowners are keen to attain more home at less expense, and so in our architectural practice we are seeing resurgent interest in the Not So Big House.
The Not So Big House movement was kicked off by the 1998 publication of The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live by Sarah Susanka. In it is spelled out a comprehensive strategy to build smaller, more cost effectively, and smarter by favoring quality over quantity. The book was an instant phenomenon, and the movement has understandably experienced resurgent, sustained immediacy over the past several years. Continue reading →
Kitchens are a place of sustenance and sociability. Food, family, and friends mingle to create a winning combination. So it makes perfect sense that remodels are so often geared toward the kitchen. What about thinking of your kitchen in the long-term sense, in terms of investment and return? Will your kitchen remodel projects be a positive contribution to your home’s value or will they erode that value? Continue reading →
Kinetic architecture is a concept through which buildings are designed to allow parts of the structure to move, without reducing overall structural integrity. A building’s capability for motion can be used just to enhance its aesthetic qualities, respond to environmental conditions, and/or perform functions that would be impossible for a static structure. The possibilities for practical implementations of kinetic architecture increased sharply in the late 20th century due to advances in mechanics, electronics, and robotics. Continue reading →
Conceived at a time when nature and utopian ideals were becoming increasingly prevalent in American culture and modern architecture, the Northern California community of Sea Ranch was developed in the early 1960s by architect and planner Al Boeke. Boeke envisioned a community that would preserve the area’s natural, rugged beauty and coastline, and would be based on ecological principles with minimal impact on the native environment. Continue reading →
Weathering steel, often referred to by the generic trademark CorTen steel, is a group of steel alloys developed to eliminate the need for painting and form a stable, ruddy appearance after a curing period by exposure to weather. In architectural applications it is used most often as wall and/or roof cladding. Continue reading →
As living beings, we are our environment. Design plays a significant role in human health, and the way that we configure and manipulate elements in a space can mean more to its inhabitants than whether they like the color of the walls, or the texture of the carpet. On the most basic level certain environmental factors have universal effects on all of us – i.e. daylight & circadian rhythm. In other cases these environmental factors are very personal and specific, based on our genetic wiring. Genetics set the stage and the environment activates those genes in different ways. Continue reading →
One of my favorite architectural monuments is British Sir Edwin Lutyens Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, commemorating the lives lost at the first Battle of the Somme, fought 100-years-on now, in May 1916.
Among his other credentials, Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944) was one of the principal architects of the cemeteries and memorials of the First World War. Continue reading →
There are many reasons to control the amount of sunlight admitted into a building. In warm, sunny climates excess solar gain will result in overheating, in cold and temperate climates winter sun entering south-facing windows can contribute to passive solar heating, and in any event controlling and diffusing natural illumination will improve daylighting. Continue reading →
In achieving architectural design excellence there are infinite Everests which beckon us: which Everest should we climb?
“The secret of architectural excellence is to translate the proportions of a dachshund into bricks, mortar and marble.” Sir Christopher Wren, 1632-1723
There are as many criteria for defining design excellence in architecture as there are architectural designs. And climbing to the summit of design excellence is analogous to that of climbing Mount Everest. Yet in architectural design there are infinite Everests which beckon: which Everest should we climb? Continue reading →